Hamas is under growing pressure to soften its hardline stance on Israel when it takes control of the Palestinian government. Yesterday the EU offered 120 million euros in aid to the Palestinians to help them avoid financial collapse, despite the appointment of a Hamas leader as Prime Minister.
However the offer conspicuously bypassed the Palestinian Authority – sending a clear signal to Hamas.
Israel has already cut financial help to the Palestinians after Hamas triumphed in parliamentary elections.
“The important thing is to get money to the Palestinian people, humanitarian aid, and the other important element is to ensure that the government that will be established will not be a terrorist government,” said Raanan Gissin, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the militant organisation now has an opportunity to reshape itself, in order to become a credible political force.
“History is replete with armed movements that have transformed themselves into political parties and are governing democratic countries today, and Hamas should aim to join those groups of movements which have gone through that transformation,” he said.
So far Hamas has shown little sign of moderating its hardline policies. An Israeli raid on suspected militants in the West Bank yesterday prompted clashes with Palestinian youths – and quick condemnation from Hamas. It vowed to take revenge for the eight Palestinians killed in the operation.